Peacocks look to continue historic run as a #15 seed
Saint Peter’s (22-11, 14-6 MAAC) vs. North Carolina (27-9, 15-5 ACC)
Date: Sunday, March 27, 2022 (5:09 PM)
Location: Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia)
- Coming off historic wins over #2 Kentucky, #7 Murray State and #3 Purdue in the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team returns to action in the Elite 8, taking on the University of North Carolina Sunday inside the Wells Fargo Center.
- The Peacocks come into the matchup with the nation’s longest win streak, winning each of its last 10 games after knocking off Murray State 67-64 in the Sweet 16. UNC, meanwhile, took down #4 UCLA 73-66 in its Sweet 16 matchup Saturday.
Last Time Out
- As they have already done multiple times this postseason, SPU made more history by becoming the first No. 15 seed in NCAA March Madness history to advance to the Elite Eight after taking down third-seeded Purdue, 67-64, in the Sweet 16 on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center.
- With the win, the Peacocks have extended the nation’s longest win streak to 10 straight games, as they improve to 22-11 overall this season.
- The Peacocks were led offensively by three players in double figures, including Daryl Banks III — who finished with 14 points — while freshman and Philadelphia native Clarence Rupert produced 11 points, all in the first half, while junior Doug Edert dropped 11 off the bench.
- SPU played lock-down defense throughout the contest once again, holding the Boilermakers to their second-lowest point total in a loss this season.
- As the only #15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks have established themselves as one of the best Cinderella stories in the history of the NCAA.
- SPU’s magical run will continue on Sunday, when they face off against North Carolina with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
- The Peacocks were phenomenal from the charity stripe all night going 19 for 21 from the line including hitting 11 of their last 11 shots down the stretch.
- This is the first meeting all-time between SPU and UNC in men’s basketball.
- After nearly a month between games from Dec. 18 to Jan. 14, SPU has gone 19-5 in the 2022 calendar year to win the MAAC title and advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history.
- KC Ndefo is the anchor of the Peacocks as he heads into the contest averaging 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season. He was named Second Team All-MAAC and is now the three-time defending MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.
- Banks III leads the Peacocks offensively overall on the season averaging 11.5 points per game this season. Banks has scored in double figures 20 times this season with 14 of those performances coming against MAAC opponents including in eight of the last 11 contests.
- SPU heads into the contest with one of the top defenses in the NCAA, leading the MAAC and ranking 19th in DI allowing just 62.3 points per game.
- After the win over Fairfield on Friday, Feb. 18, SPU won its 10th MAAC contest for the third consecutive season. It is the first time the Peacocks have won double-digit conference contests in three straight seasons since 1986-89.
- The 22 wins this season for SPU is the most since racking up 23 wins in the 2016-17 season when they won the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
- The 10-game win streak is the longest since the Peacocks won 12 straight games in the 1981-82 season when they won the MAAC regular season title.
- The Peacocks are the first MAAC team to win an NCAA Tournament game since Siena did so in 2009 and the only team in conference history to advance to the Elite 8.
- Two weeks ago, three Peacocks were announced to All-MAAC teams for their strong performances on the court this season.
- Ndefo was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the year for the third time in his career and earned Second Team All-MAAC honors. He also was selected as an NABC Second Team All-District honoree on Tuesday.
- Banks III earned a spot on the All-MAAC Third Team for the second straight year giving him three All-conference honors after being named to the All-Rookie team his freshman season.
- Freshman Jaylen Murray nabbed a spot on the All-Rookie team for the Peacocks after averaging 5.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in his first collegiate season.
- The 2021-22 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, Ndefo now has a program-best career total of 304 blocks, good for the third-most among active players in DI.
- In the home win over Quinnipiac on Friday, Feb. 4, Ndefo swatted 11 shots to set the single-game program record for blocks in a game. It was tied for the second-most blocked shots all-time in a MAAC game.
- After leading the country in blocks per game in 2020-21, Ndefo is atop the MAAC and 13th in the country with 2.71 blocks per game this season.
Money From the Stripe
- Saint Peter’s has two of the top free throw shooters in the MAAC in Doug Edert and Banks III. Edert is the MAAC leader shooting 88.4 percent from the stripe this season, good for 19th in the country, while Banks is fourth in the league shooting 85.6 percent from the line.
- From Nov. 27 to Jan. 26, Banks III made 34 straight free throws which is currently the fourth-longest streak in Division I this season.
- In total, the duo has missed just 25 free throws in 192 attempts headed into the contest.
Defense Wins Championships
- The Peacocks currently rank seventh in the country in field goal percentage defense, 14th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 19th in scoring defense and 22nd in blocked shots per game.
- The Peacocks have allowed under 70 points in 21 of their last 25 games and hold a 20-5 record this season when allowing less than 70.
- In their current 10-game winning streak that includes the conference and NCAA tournament, SPU is allowing just 56.5 points per game.
- SPU has had one of the most balanced groups in the country this season and have had 27 consecutive games with at least eight different scorers.
- Offensively, nine different players have scored in double figures in a game this season.
- Of the 12 student-athletes who have seen action in a game this season, all 12 have at least one start. Additionally, all 12 are averaging at least 8.5 minutes per contest.
- As a team, SPU is ranked second in the MAAC shooting 35.3 percent from 3-point range as a team this season.
- Edert leads the way for the Peacocks and sits third in the conference shooting 42.2 percent from downtown on the year which would rank 12th in the country if he met the NCAA qualifying number of attempts.
- Banks III also sits in the top-10 in the MAAC shooting 36.8 percent from deep to rank 10th overall in the league.
Crashing the Boards
- The Peacocks are one of the top rebounding teams in the MAAC, leading the league with a +2.7 rebounding margin this season.
- SPU has done a strong job on the offensive glass this season as they sit third in the conference and inside the top-100 in the country with 10.9 offensive rebounds per game.
- Positive results on the boards has been a strong indicator of success for the Peacocks this season as they have outrebounded their opponent in 12 of their 22 victories on the year.
- Led by strong defense and a well-rounded offensive attack, the Peacocks knocked off #2 Kentucky, #7 Murray State and #3 Purdue to become the first #15-seed to advance to the Elite 8 in history.
- It is the first Big Dance for SPU since winning the MAAC Title in the 2010-11 season. The Peacocks were a #14 seed in the 2011 tournament and fell in the opening round against #3 Purdue 65-43.
- The Peacocks have been to the NCAA Tournament two other times in NCAA history as well, appearing in the 1994-95 tourney as well as in 1990-91.
- Prior to their appearance in this year’s tournament, SPU has previously earned a #15 seed in 95 and a #12 seed in 91 but were previously unable to get over the hump as they currently sit 3-3 in NCAA Tournament games all-time.
- Head Coach Shaheen Holloway has experience in the NCAA Tournament as both a player and an assistant coach. In the 2000 NCAA Tournament as a student-athlete at Seton Hall, Holloway led the Pirates as a #10 seed to the Sweet Sixteen, hitting the game-winning shot in overtime against Oregon in the opening round.
- It is also the first postseason non-conference tournament appearance since 2017 when the Peacocks won the CIT Tournament title.
Taking on the Tar Heels
- UNC heads into the contest with a 27-9 overall record, finishing 15-5 in the ACC regular season. The Tar Heels have won nine of their last 10 games and head into the matchup as one of the hottest teams in the country.
- North Carolina found themselves in the AP Top-25 on three occasions this season, rising as high as No. 18 in week two.
- Junior Armando Bacot is a force for the Tar Heels averaging 16.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. Bacot leads the nation with 28 double-doubles this season while also ranking inside the top-10 in offensive, defensive and total rebounds per game.
- Sophomores RJ Davis and Caleb Love as well as graduate student Brady Manek are all averaging double figures for UNC scoring 13.5, 15.7 and 15.1 points per game, respectively.
- The Tar Heels have been fantastic all season in a number of different categories, including rebounding where they rank second in the NCAA in total rebounds, third in defensive rebounds per game, sixth in rebound margin, and 11th in rebounds per game.
- As a team, UNC has struggled this season in the turnover battle, ranking 339th in the country in turnovers forced, 293rd in turnover margin and 243rd in turnovers per game.
- The winner of the Elite 8 contest will advance to the Final Four to face off against the winner of the contest between #2 Duke and #4 Arkansas Saturday with a spot in the National Championship game on the line.
COURTESY ST. PETER’S ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS